Well, that was a weird attempted coup

Halfway decent insurrectionists generally target government facilities and take over the state broadcaster. Ours targeted Shoprite and took over the bottle stores. Also, coup plotters usually rely on the support of the broader populace. “Help us get into power,” is the rebel cry. Here, the streets rang to the sound of, “Help us get into Tekkie Town.”

If your coup stands a chance of success, it’s also important to make sure that everyone got the memo. One looter who was interviewed said, “We are here to protest the unjust incarceration of our brave leader, Jacob Zuma.” Another intervened, “What? I thought we were protesting the unjust system that condemns us to live in poverty.”

In an inspiring display of whataboutism, state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo castigated the media for only focusing on the shops and malls that were targeted. “What about all the stuff that’s still standing?” she demanded, claiming that the intelligence services had prevented the really important infrastructure, like airports, power stations and the SA Breweries, from being destroyed. She’s a teller of industrial-strength porkies, that one.

But what if the sloppy seditionists had, in fact, succeeded in toppling the government? Ramaphosa is under house arrest and his Thuma Mina loyalists have been rounded up and are being held at undisclosed locations. Courts are shut down and the generals, not wanting to lose their jobs, pledge their support to the insurgents. What now?

Lockdown, being a Western construct, is ended immediately. The state of disaster is replaced by a state of freedom. No more restrictions on anything.

With the ANC firmly in the hands of the radical economic transformistas, an NEC meeting is called. Sheep are slaughtered, fires are lit, champagne corks are popped. Friends, relatives and comrades are invited to join in. The venue is changed to the FNB Stadium to accommodate 50 000 new members. With no agenda and drunken arguments about who is in charge, the meeting drags on.

It finally emerges that the ANC Top 6 is now the Top 12. Coincidentally, it’s the same 12 people named by the former regime as having instigated the insurrection. Somebody remembers that Jacob Zuma is still inside Estcourt prison and a car is sent to pick him up.

Zuma’s friends and family are invited to a lavish soiree at Nkandla where they are given goodie bags and positions in the new administration. The party continues for two weeks, during which the country is without a government. Nobody notices.

Carl Niehaus appears on Newzroom Afrika, the only broadcaster still permitted to operate, and informs the nation that SA will henceforth be a parliamentary kleptocracy instead of a constitutional democracy. He also announces the new cabinet.

Jacob Zuma is declared President for Life. This is an honorary position. He has no real power or duties but is entitled to a salary of his choosing. He chooses a fat one.

His Excellency Elias Sekgobelo Magashule is declared Supreme Leader, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas, Conqueror of White Monopoly Capital in General and Cyril Ramaphosa in Particular.

Duduzane Zuma – Governor of the Reverse Bank. First order of business is to oversee the nonstop printing of money. New R5 000 notes feature his father’s face.

Malusi Gigaba – Minister of Sartorial Elegance and Pornographic Affairs. Responsible for overseeing SA’s contributions to Pornhub and ensuring that comrades are given equal access to designer clothing.

Tony Yengeni – Minister of Correctional Services. First, release all prisoners. Second, convert prisons into a chain of upmarket spaza shops.

Carl Niehaus – Minister of Sport and Recreation. Moves to lobby the Olympic Committee to accept the toyi-toyi as a competitive sport. Arranges the recreation of historical events such as the Battle of Mooi River Plaza and the Skirmish at Maponya Mall.

Bathabile Dlamini – Minister of Bottle Stores. With Edward Zuma as her deputy, she is responsible for nationalising all liquor outlets and ensuring they remain open around the clock.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane – Minister of Adult Reeducation. Tasked with confining journalists and political analysts to internment camps where Nomvula Mokonyane teaches the real history of South Africa e.g. the looting started in 1652.

David Mabuza – Minister of Health and Overseas Travel. Responsible for arranging flights to Russia for members of the new administration who may or may not be unwell.

Des van Rooyen – Finance Minister. A part-time position (weekends only). Complies with demands for money by members of the executive. Reports to Duduzane Zuma.

Ayanda Dlodlo – CEO of the Human Riots Commission, responsible for instigating unrest in order to give the security forces a pretext to arrest DA supporters and other dissidents.

Zandile Gumede – Minister of Municipal Malfeasance. Tasked with rewarding councils for coming up with new and creative ways to fleece taxpayers. Also responsible for ensuring that municipalities conform to the lowest possible standards to avoid elitist tendencies.

Atul Gupta – Chairman of the board. All of them.

Mzwanele Manyi – Minister of Truth. Responsible for delivering government fabrications, falsehoods and fibs with a straight face.

Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla – Minister of Tweets and Retweets. A home-based position, supportive of those who do the dirty work.

Municipal mayhem

There are few six-syllable words in the English language that fill one with more dread and loathing than the word ‘municipality’. Not in every country, obviously. It might seem hard to believe, but there are parts of the world where people don’t fall to their knees weeping or laughing when they hear the word spoken aloud.

Growing up in Durban, a career with the municipality never crossed my mind. Frankly, a career in anything never really occurred to me until fairly late in life. Back then, white people were guaranteed a position at the municipality. It’s where you went if you didn’t know what you wanted to do but your parents were threatening to put you in a wheelchair if you didn’t get a job.

I had friends who worked for the council. I didn’t think any less of them. That would have been impossible. I never understood what any of them did because my eyes glazed over the moment they began explaining. I do remember asking, “Isn’t it boring?”

Things have changed a fair bit since then. If you have a friend who works for the Durban municipality today, you are far more likely to ask, “Isn’t it dangerous?”

The other day someone tried to poison the acting mayor. This was after the actual mayor, Zandile Gumede, was suspended by the ANC. Not, as you might imagine, by her ankles from the Connaught bridge. That sort of punishment will come when the rule of law has been completely obliterated. We’re still at the gnawing-away stage.

Gumede was subsequently fired. Party members are poised to punish her further by electing her chairperson of the ANC in the eThekwini region. The Asset Forfeiture Unit raided her properties today and took a bunch of shiny new cars away.

Anyway. If I were starting out again, I would definitely want to work for the Durban municipality. When I had the chance, Sybil Hotz was mayor. I don’t remember her at all. Then again, I had just returned from two years in the army where I learnt how to kill, drink and get high. It’s surprising I could find my way home. I googled Mayor Hotz to refresh my memory. It seems she’s best known for having opened the Umgeni Bird Park.

Across the country, municipalities are struggling. Not only to lower the bar set by mayors like Gumede, but to get people to pay them for services allegedly rendered. At the end of March, ordinary people like you and, well, you, owed our 257 municipalities at least R50 billion for rates, services and traffic fines.

I don’t understand. There are municipalities, mainly in Limpopo, that, if you, as a job-seeker, respond in the affirmative to the question, “Are you or have you ever been a gangster?” will hire you on the spot. Smart, industrious individuals with a clearly defined criminal bent are highly sought after in the civil service. So why, then, are so many municipalities battling to get people to pay up?

If there’s one thing gangsters know, it’s debt recovery. They need to be given free reign to express their creativity. Employees are wasted sitting behind their desks idly committing minor fraud and whatnot. Encourage them to get out into the fresh air. Thuma mina. With a baseball bat. You might even find Discovery Health will want to include it on their rewards programme.

Nearly fifty municipalities are collecting less than half the revenue owed to them. The Treasury can’t even ascertain the rate of collection of another 24 municipalities, presumably because nobody answers the phone and there’s a rabid dog at the gate.

When I was a kid, a girl from down the road borrowed fifty cents from me. In today’s terms, that’s, like, R50 000. When the end of the week came, I went over to her house to collect on the loan. She laughed and said she’d break my arm rather than pay me back. As a compromise she offered to show me what makes girls different to boys. Best fifty cents I’ve ever spent.

But, hey. Don’t beat yourself up if you are in arrears and plan on staying there indefinitely. A man from the council will be along to do that for you. Well, he would be if I was in charge. The government itself owes municipalities R10 billion. I don’t really understand how this can happen. Aren’t they all members of the same gang? It’s like a massive money-laundering pyramid scheme run by the most disorganised crime network in the world.

Point is, it’s essential that municipalities collect the debt they are owed. Stealing is only sustainable if supply keeps pace with demand. And, man, the demand out there for free money is second to none. Municipalities go bankrupt when plundering outstrips income and bailouts. It’s basic accounting, a subject I got nine percent for in matric and which goes a long way towards explaining my current situation.

It gets more complicated. Municipalities also owe creditors R150 billion. If you live in the Free State and your local council owes you money, don’t even bother ringing the bell. A neighbour will have been paid to say they’ve all gone to a funeral. You might glimpse the twitch of a curtain as you drive away. Assuming the curtains haven’t been stolen.

Several municipalities have run out of money entirely and are in overdraft. They are, in the desperate yet eternally polite parlance of the most ignored man in public office, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, in a state of distress and close to collapse. We have all been there, mostly on a Saturday night, but, unlike municipalities, we can’t blame the sponging class or cadre deployment for our appalling behaviour.

Standing upwind from the others, awkwardly shuffling their goody two-shoes and trying not to look overly righteous, are eighteen clean municipalities. Coming as a surprise to exactly nobody, most of them are in the Western Cape. The other 239 festering councils remain curled up in the foetal position whimpering, “Go away. It wasn’t me.”

Here’s a final fun fact. Two out of three municipalities filed financial statements and performance reports so unintelligible and flawed that they might as well have been scrawled in Aramaic on Wimpy serviettes.